Federal Engagement: Children's Bureau

The Challenge

As the agency in charge of regulation and oversight of state child welfare systems, the Children’s Bureau plays a critical role in determining the priorities and practices of the child welfare system. Historically, while the Children’s Bureau has heard from people with lived experience, their voices have not been at the center of the agency’s policy strategy. As a result, policy and practice across the entire child welfare ecosystem has lacked the context and understanding offered by those who have first-hand experience with child welfare.

The Action

Think of Us engages with the Children’s Bureau on issues that are directly and indirectly related to child welfare. In this work, we actively integrate the voices of individuals with lived experience in child welfare by sharing data, participatory research, and direct feedback of child welfare stakeholders. Rather than limiting our contribution to the views of our singular organization, TOU creates proximity by inviting individual, organization, and state child welfare players to share issues they face and perspectives on policy. We synthesize this information to provide the Children’s Bureau with relevant, actionable insights into the barriers and needs of people impacted by child welfare.

The Stats

60+ child welfare advocates and organizations contribute to TOU talking points

4,286 people attended April 2021 and 1,000+ people attended March 2022 National Town Halls

The Results

  • We hosted virtual National Town Halls in April 2021 and March 2022 with Aysha Schomburg, Associate Commissioner of the Children’s Bureau and Hannah Bristol of the White House Office of Public Engagement, creating an opportunity for current and former foster youth to hear directly from the Associate Commissioner and learn about the support and priorities of the Biden-Harris Administration.
  • We infuse lived experience data into the Children’s Bureau’s strategic priorities
  • We have connected 50 young people with the Children’s Bureau and other federal agencies.

Centering Lived Experience

  • TOU staff working on this project have lived experience in foster care
  • We share our unprecedented data (tens of thousands of respondents) and learnings on the needs of current and former foster youth (Note: shared with individual consent)
  • We create proximity for people with lived experience through inviting them to contribute to policy talking points
  • We facilitate opportunities for young people to interface directly with Children’s Bureau staff and ask questions at Town Halls and other meetings

Key Stakeholders

Geographic Location

DC and Nationwide

Time Frame


Earned Revenue
Government Contract

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